The late Kenneth O'Brien
A Dubliner, who shot his friend in the back of his head, then used that friend’s chainsaw to ‘chop him into pieces’ before disposing of his torso in the dead man’s suitcase.
He described the scene as pure carnage, savagery and smelling of death, but said he was convinced that he’d saved the life of the man’s partner, whom he claimed the deceased had wanted dead.
The Central Criminal Court heard the evidence yesterday, Thursday, October 25, in the murder trial of Paul Wells Snr. The jury was watching DVDs of his garda interviews following his arrest on suspicion of murdering Kenneth O’Brien.
The 50-year-old of Barnamore Park in Finglas has admitted shooting dead his fellow Dubliner and dismembering his body. However, the father-of-five has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 33-year-old at his home in Barnamore Park on 15th or 16th January, 2016.
He claims that the deceased had wanted him to murder Mr O’Brien’s partner, so that he could take their child back to Australia, where he had previously lived.
The jury began watching DVDs of his interviews earlier this week. He told gardai that he shot the deceased in the back of the head during a scuffle over Mr O’Brien alleged request that he kill Eimear Dunne, along with another request to make it look like ‘sexual abuse’.
The jurors yesterday heard what he told gardai about the aftermath of the shooting, when he realised he couldn’t lift Mr O’Brien’s body from where it lay in his garden shed.
“I was frightened of being discovered,” he said. “There was an orange-handled chainsaw. I don’t know what I was thinking,” he continued. “My head was spinning.”
He said that time was against him. “The hard part for me was that it [the chainsaw] belonged to Ken,” he said, explaining that he had borrowed it a year or two earlier. “There wouldn’t be very much room in the shed,” he said. “So, I knew I couldn’t do it in the shed, if I was going to do it at all. I pulled him outside, having taken all his clothes off.”
He said he dragged him to the end of the garden. “Ken was too low down for anybody to see. He was too close to the walls,” he explained. He said that it must have taken him 20 minutes to get the saw started.
“Eventually, I got it started,” he continued. “I never thought I’d do that to a human being, my friend. I just had an overwhelming sense of trying to survive. I must have f***ing made about six attempts to f***ing try and do it. I kept bottling. I was half expecting him to wake up.”
He said that he wrung a tea towel until it was like a rope, put it in his mouth and bit down as hard as he could.
“I couldn't believe what I’d done,” he said. “F***ing nightmare. What sort of f***ing person was I?” He said he was crying and felt sick after knocking off the machine.
“That smell was all over, of death. God, he was my friend,” he continued. “Why did he f***ing choose me?”
He said that they were always laughing and giggling. “There he was in my f***ing back yard. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” he remarked.
“When you’re there, you’re in a f***ing nightmare. It’s f***ing real,” he said. “Just f***ing carnage, f***ing pure carnage. All I could do is ask him to forgive me.”
He said that ‘stuff had kicked back’ on him when he was using the saw so he changed. He said that he then quickly picked up Mr O’Brien’s head, arms and legs and put them in plastic bags. That left just the torso, he said, describing how he rolled it onto a sheet of plastic.
“I was terrified of being discovered. I was ashamed of what I did,” he said. “I knew that, at this stage, I had to do something in order to get rid of the body.”
He considered burying him, but didn’t have a pick or shovel.
He said that he ‘worked through the night preparing to get rid of his torso’ and by 5.15am, had put his friend’s torso into a suitcase.
He told gardai that in the weeks before the killing, Mr O’Brien had asked him to take a large suitcase out of his Clondalkin home for him. He said he was under the impression that Mr O’Brien would take it back later and hide it in a yard where he allegedly hid things from his partner.
“It’s the suitcase that Ken’s torso was found in and put there by me,” he admitted.
He said that he put the case into his car and drove to the M50. He said that he hadn’t planned a route but ended up in Ardclough, Co Kildare. The court had already heard that this was where he had originally got to know Mr O’Brien, who had operated a garage there.
“I’m ashamed to say that I put that suitcase in the water,” he said, referring to the Grand Canal. “I contemplated taking it out but it was too late. It had drifted into the middle.”
The court had already heard that he went to Mr O’Brien’s house later that morning, after Ms Dunne had called him to see if he knew where her partner was.
“I almost found myself transfixed, looking at Eimear,” he said “I was happy in myself, even with guilt, that she was alive.” He said that he left there, knowing he had ‘a lot of work ahead’ of him.
“I had to come to terms at that stage with disposing of the rest of Ken’s body. They were in plastic bin bags just inside the door of my shed,” he explained. “I had to start with the horrible task of sorting these other bits.”
He said that he wrapped them into tight parcels and put them into the boot of his car. He then drove to a carpark in Celbridge to meet his son, Paul Jnr, to talk to him about his upcoming stag party.
“He got into the car…. We went on a drive,” he said. “In the back of my head, this stuff was in my car. Paul had no knowledge. Eventually we found ourselves beside a couple of barges. I felt this might be the spot to dispose of poor Kenneth’s remains.” He said that he pretended to have to go to the toilet and his son stayed in the car.
“I opened the boot as fast as I could,” he said .”I don’t know if Paul was aware of the splashes or anything.” He said he was emotional, tired, and scared going home.
“I couldn’t believe what had taken place because it was so quick,” he said. “I was a walking zombie.” He spent that night cleaning any area where Mr O’Brien had been.
He met Ms Dunne again the following day, telling her about affairs her partner had had. “I was convinced that I’d saved her life,” he said. He returned home to dispose of the gun and drove towards the Strawberry Beds. “I disposed of it in pieces in the water, not in the same place,” he explained. “I kept rolling, one hand on the wheel and the other hand, I’d fling these parts.”
The trial has already heard that Mr O’Brien’s hands were never found, and his interviewers asked him where he had disposed of them. He said that he had put that package into the water at Islandbridge on Monday evening, the 18th January.
He was asked why they had become separated from the rest of him. “I forgot to put them in the bag,” he replied. “They were left on the shelf in the shed.” He denied that it was to avoid identification.
His interviewers returned to the dismembering again, with the accused describing it as ‘the most barbaric thing I ever thought in my life’. “The only way I could take him out was take him out in parts,” he said. “I was looking at saws I had. Then I remembered I had the f***ing chainsaw.”
He said that he was frightened of being seen but had to bring him out into the yard and dragged him out by his feet. “When I chopped him into pieces, I was on my knees,” he said.“Tell me what you did first,” asked one of his interviewers. “No, don’t make me do that,” he replied.
“It was f***ing savagery,” he said later. The trial continues.